Freo's View

IS FREMANTLE REALLY A LIGHTRAIL OPTION?

 

trackless tram

 

Lightrail is allegedly popular because buses are deemed to be boring and uncomfortable while trains are sexy, hence TV stations in Perth yesterday showed Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and CUSP Professor Peter Newman promoting trackless trams through Fremantle and all the way to Murdoch.

“The world is watching us” Newman proclaimed, but the new technology is not that new at all with the first guided systems dating back to the late 1980s, while it has had limited commercial success since the 2000s in places like Rouen in France, Castellon in Spain and Las Vegas, and there is one somewhere in China as well I believe.

Trackless trams look good, I have to agree, and at only $15 million per kilometre are about a third cheaper than trams on rail, but they can get stuck in traffic, like buses and that is not very good for public transport.

The promo video on TV yesterday showed a trackless tram along the Cappuccino Strip and High Street in the West End where traffic often comes to a standstill because of traffic volume or people parking. A trackless tram down the popular Freo strip would also be the end for any parade such as the Blessing of the Fleet and Anzac Day going through there because unlike buses lightrail can’t just be diverted through other streets.

The low gradient for trackless trams is also a worry. Could they drive up to South Street at the Hilton Hill or High Street near Monument Hill?

According to Professor Newman two trackless trains are waiting for a trial in Australia, but Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth also are interested which will make Fremantle unlikely to be the preferred option.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE TRAINS NOT RUNNING TODAY

 

Yesterday I saw a notice on Facebook by the PTA that Fremantle trains would not be running at night this weekend but a Roundhouse volunteer guide just told me she had to take a bus from Mosman Park because the trains are not running during the day either.

With WINTERWORLD just starting today it is amazing how the Public Transport Authority so often cancel Freo trains when festivals are on. Is there any collaboration with the City of Fremantle at all?

Roel Loopers

WILL LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM CREATE BETTER COUNCILLORS?

Posted in city of fremantle, council reform, councils, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 28, 2019

 

Landmark local government reforms passed by State Parliament will bring councils into the 21st century as the first reforms resulting from the Local Government Act review. But will the new WA Local Government Reform create better Councillors through inductions and training?

I have been amazed for many years that many of those who nominate for a position on local council do not even bother to do the basic homework of attending Council and Committee meetings, so when elected they come in unprepared and for some of them it takes very long to understand local government process, so let’s hope the reform will improve the level of local governance we are getting.

These reforms target key priority areas identified by the community and local government sector to better prepare council members for their challenging role, strengthen governance, empower councils to communicate with residents using modern technology and expand the amount of information available to the public online.

Commencing at the 2019 ordinary local government elections in October, all candidates will be required to have completed an online induction. This free, online module will be available on the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ website in July.

Building the capacity of council members further, all council members will be required to complete a training program following their election covering key areas such as conflicts of interest, understanding financial reports and budgets, and serving on council.

Reforms will also:

  • Improve standards of behaviour through a mandatory code of conduct for council members and candidates;
  • Introduce new standards for CEO recruitment and performance management to help elected members select a CEO and assess their performance;
  • Provide clarity for elected members to manage real and perceived conflicts of interest related to gifts; and
  • Require local governments to publish information on their website such as local laws, approved council policies and all documents contained within a meeting agenda allowing instant access to council information for everyone 24/7.

 

Roel Loopers

 

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FREMANTLE PLANNING PROCRASTINATION NOT A GOOD LOOK

 

The City of Fremantle has some explaining to do about the procrastination it is engaging in on two planning items.

The City of Fremantle closed the PAW-Pedestrian Access Way-between Kellow Place and Swanbourne Street over a year ago and did not re-open the PAW when the closure was rejected by the WA Planning Committee, so the PAW has now been illegally closed for nearly a year and that is unacceptable behaviour by the City.

Planning officers were directed by Council to engage with the Chair of the WAPC to see if they would change their mind, but absolutely nothing has happened to the chagrin of residents who believe there is nepotism in play because one of the property owners next to the PAW is befriended with Elected Members and City officers. It’s not a good look!

The other flabbergasting planning subject is the four-storey Atwell Arcade building where the exterior paneling has not been completed to planning approval specifications.

On a motion by Councillor Rachel Pemberton officers were directed last year by Council to engage in negotiations with Silverleaf Investments to see if a compromise could be reached that would satisfy both parties but nothing has been forthcoming here either.

When it comes to a small residential fence being too high or a new residential building being 15 centimetres higher than the approved plans the City takes action, but for some very obscure reasons when it affects mates and big property developers they sit on their hands and hope it will just go away and we stop mentioning and complaining about it.

Negotiations should not take longer than a few weeks to sort out these things.

Roel Loopers

Disclosure: One of the resident of Kellow Place who is against the closure of the PAW is a long-term friend of mine.

 

ROUNDHOUSE CLOSED AGAIN ON SUNDAY

 

Roundhouse

 

It is an outrage that one of Fremantle’s most significant tourist destinations, the historic Roundhouse, is closed again today on Sunday, which is one of the busiest days of the week.

The weather is perfectly alright with some very dark clouds around but it is pleasantly warm and there are a lot of people wandering the streets.

The oldest public building in Western Australia was also closed last week on Friday, Saturday and Monday and that is not acceptable at all.

The Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides who manage the Roundhouse sent a statement to the Fremantle Herald that before every winter an assessment is made, but that is nonsense of Trumpian proportions.

Fact is that traditionally the Roundhouse was only closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day and open to the public every other day of the year. If the weather is too inclement the team on the day might decide to close an hour or so early, but never have volunteer guides turned up and decided not to open this historic jail at all.

It is not good enough and it is reassuring to know that the City of Fremantle  is finally showing some interest to manage the tourist destination more professionally.

The unscheduled closures could well jeopardise the grant application with Lotterywest for new interpretive displays in the Roundhouse, which is a superb project just waiting for funding.

When is the State Government going to show interest in historically significant Arthur’s Head and the Roundhouse?

Roel Loopers

 

HIGH STREET UPGRADE TO FINALLY START IN SEPTEMBER

 

The Fremantle High Street Upgrade which was to start in March this year is delayed again and will now commence in September with the demolition of the residential properties which are occupied by squatters.

MAINROADS released the message below this morning:

High Street Upgrade a step closer following Environmental Approval

The upgrade of High Street will proceed following completion of the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) Public Environmental Review process.

In March 2019, the EPA found the proposal environmentally acceptable, provided the conditions to reduce noise levels, retain identified mature trees and minimise the impact on black cockatoos were met. A public appeals process followed and the project can now proceed subject to the above conditions, following approval from the Minister for Environment on 23 May 2019. Further information can be found on the EPA website.

The project’s concept design , developed in consultation with the City of Fremantle, reflects a commitment to retain as many mature native and non-native trees as possible through the introduction of a median strip, as well as the installation of noise walls to offer residents protection from traffic noise. Engagement with local residents regarding the final location, design and configuration of these noise walls is ongoing.

Procurement update

In March 2019, Main Roads asked three shortlisted proponents to provide costed proposals for the detailed design and construction of the project. We expect to receive these proposals in July with a view to awarding a contract for delivery of the project in October. Construction is scheduled to begin by the end of this year.

Demolition of Main Roads properties on High Street

Main Roads owns several properties in the High Street Upgrade road reserve that will be demolished as the land is required for the project. The majority are not leased and are in poor and potentially dangerous condition.

We are aware these properties are being illegally used by people for accommodation. Consequently, we have been working with the Department of Communities to ensure the people residing in the properties have access to alternative housing.

Demolition of these properties is scheduled to occur in September following a 90-day notice period. Every effort will be made to minimise disruption to local residents and the road network during the demolition process.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE PORTS HERITAGE PRESERVATION A PRIORITY

 

z

 

It is good to finally see some restoration work on heritage buildings at Fremantle Ports. They started on the former Immigration Building and are also doing some work at B Shed.

But the neglect of A Shed that has been rotting away for years now is not acceptable, and since the public has no access to other sheds along Victoria Quay we don’t really know how bad it is elsewhere.

Fremantle Ports is keen on activating Victoria Quay, and that is a good thing, and they are also keen to start with development there, but that is unlikely to occur until the final Westport Taskforce report has been delivered and the State Government has made a decision about the future of Fremantle Port and Victoria Quay, so that is a long way away still.

Up to then it is the duty of Fremantle Ports to look after the heritage there. It is not acceptable to have a demolition by neglect attitude, so they need to prioritise the maintenance of the old sheds.

Roel Loopers

 

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HAVE YOUR SAY ON HEART OF BEACONSFIELD DEVELOPMENT

 

190524 Davis Park structure plan resized

 

One of the key pieces in the plan to revitalise the Fremantle Heart of Beaconsfield has been released for public comment.

The Davis Park precinct is an area of 10 hectares of land bounded by South Street, Lefroy Road, Caesar Street and Fifth Avenue consisting of mostly state-owned social housing.

City of Fremantle Director of Strategic Planning Paul Garbett said the state government is looking to redevelop the area and has submitted a structure plan to guide the process.

“The state government through the Department of Communities has a policy to decentralise large pockets of social housing and redevelop the land to create a range of more diverse and affordable housing options,” Mr Garbett said.

“The Davis Park precinct currently contains around 260 dwellings that are fairly old, low-scale residential. These homes are accessed by a number of cul-de-sac roads, so connectivity with the surrounding neighbourhood is poor.

“For this reason the Department of Communities is keen to redevelop the Davis Park precinct to create a more diverse mix of housing, with both private and public housing and better connections to surrounding areas.

“The structure plan submitted by the Department of Communities shows details such as where roads and public open space will go, as well as types and locations of housing, community facilities and other land uses.

“As the authority responsible for local planning, the City of Fremantle’s role is to assess the plan and make a recommendation to the WA Planning Commission, which will make the final decision on whether the plan is approved or not.

“To help the City prepare its recommendation to the WAPC, we’d really like to hear from the local community and get some feedback on the structure plan.

“Community feedback at this stage is important because, although it doesn’t include details such as the design of new buildings, a structure plan does guide later stages of planning such as subdivision and development applications.”

The Davis Park structure plan proposes the creation of a mixed-use precinct along South Street, with retail, commercial and residential properties.

Public open space around Davis Park will be expanded and an innovation precinct will be established to provide opportunities for alternative housing styles.

Redevelopment of the Davis Park area is a key part of the broader Heart of Beaconsfield planning project, which will guide the redevelopment of surrounding areas like the Lefroy Road Quarry and the former South Metropolitan TAFE site.

An information stall will be set up at the Growers Green Farmers Markets at Fremantle College on Sunday 16 June, with the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Department of Communities and the City’s planning staff on the structure plan proposal.

For more information and to make a submission visit the City of Fremantle’s My Say Freo website. Public comments close on 21 June.

WHAT IS GOOD TASTE IN BUILDING DESIGN?

 

I think all of us who often complain about the mediocre new architecture we are getting in Fremantle should be delighted that the new DESIGN WA guidelines will apply from today on, but I am quite skeptical about the impact it will have, because good design is like good taste. It is very personal and hard to quantify.

Often when I have slammed the design of buildings others have commented they liked what I believed was atrocious architecture, so why would expert panels be any different in their different taste and preferences? Who dictates what good taste and good design is?

The new DESIGN WA guidelines are all about aesthetics and a review panel of 50 people will decide which planning proposal is in good taste and which one is not. The design review panel comprises of people from architecture, urban design, planning, and landscape architects plus more from heritage, public health, sustainability and engineering. It will be near impossible to reach consensus in such a big group I fear, so Chair Geoff Warn, who is the WA Government Architect, will have a big job ahead of him.

DESIGN WA has got rid of the controversial R-Code system applied up to now, so I wonder if Fremantle and other local councils will also do that. I’ll ask the Fremantle Planning Department if changes will be made in that regard.

I believe that our cities and communities deserve much better design than what we largely have been getting lately, especially for substantial apartment and office buildings. Retaining the tree canopy or providing significant numbers of trees and plants and creating much better streetscapes and public realm will be a very positive step forward. Let’s hope it can all be realised.

Roel Loopers

LET’S TALK FREO UP!

 

Those people who constantly hammer Fremantle Council with criticism about vacant shops, homeless people, anti social behaviour and crime would do well to pay attention to recent media reports.

Shops, cafes and restaurants in Mount Lawley along once extremely popular Beaufort Street are closing in large numbers and they blame high rents and a drop in foot traffic for that.

The decline in retail is happening all over metropolitan Perth, Australia and the world as the traditional high street shopping destinations have been replaced with huge suburban shopping centres on the outskirts.

Media reports about excessive shop lifting and anti social behaviour in Cockburn, Rockingham, Canning, etc have become common, and the West Australian dedicated two pages of their weekend edition on the issues of homelessness in the Perth CBD.

There are no easy solutions for any of these problems and the call from traders for councils to demand that property owners charge lower rents is as unrealistic as it would be unlawful. Governments can not dictate what rents property owners can charge and while high rents in the present retail climate appear almost indecent and selfish there is very little local or state governments can do about it.

Some owners are better and allow pop-up shops to fill vacant shops, but only for a very limited time, so that is only a short-term ‘solution’.

Crime and anti social  behaviour are State responsibility and while Fremantle and most councils do have their own very good security officers they are often powerless as they do not have the right to issue move-on notices or arrest people.

There is no doubt though that the perception of not feeling safe will keep people away. Foot traffic numbers in the Cappuccino Strip have dropped dramatically while they have increased quite a bit in High Street in the West End. The latter is probably mainly due to Notre Dame University students pounding the pavement.

It is always strange to notice on busy Freo weekends how many people are walking along South Terrace but when I turn into High Street the street is nearly void of pedestrians.  Visitors seem to prefer Collie and Essex streets for their East West movement and ignore the far more attractive historic High Street.  Why is that, I wonder?

A prominent Freo business owner urged me last week to promote that we collectively stop talking our city down and that we have to start telling ourselves and our visitors how special Fremantle is.

Only yesterday at the Roundhouse two German tourists told me how much they liked Freo and how friendly people here are, and the volunteer guides hear those kind of remarks very often. We receive so much positive feedback from overseas and interstate visitors that it is hard to believe that some Fremantle residents and traders here have such a negative opinion about our gorgeous little city.

Freo is a great place but like most other suburbs has similar problems and struggles with the retail economy,  anti social behaviour and crime. Attracting more visitors to Freo will partly help with that, and that can only be achieved by not talking our city down, but by talking it up. Let’s give it a try!

Roel Loopers

 

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